Two Reports, the Marine Institute’s “Sea Change” and Cawley’s “Steering a New Course” as a Context for a sustainable future.
The context for the Cawley report is that Fish Stocks are declining and increasingly the fishing industry is under threat form over fishing and short term focused management. Steering a new course should be read with another similar report in mind, “A Sea Change” which presents a strategy for developing the Marine resource in Ireland. Fish landings contribute about 10% of the total marine resource in Ireland. “Steering A New” course should be considered as Ireland’s strategy for sustainable fishing in Ireland and could encourage increased share of Common Fisheries Policy quota if sustainability targets are met.
We are already hearing about the consequences of these two reports. A plan for decommissioning is well advanced. The danger, frequently expressed by the fishing industry, is a concern that strict conservation and sustainability procedures will reduce the fishing industry to a level where there will be no chance of a return to a viable sustainable industry in the future when all these conservation actions result in abundance. Imagine the situation in years to come when conservation policies deliver plenty of fish, the sea is abundant but the ability to catch fish competitively has diminished. Only those countries that have maintained their ability to fish competitively will be a position to take advantage of any stocks. BIM, the Marine Institute, the Government both locally and in Europe need to address the need for a viable industry, mothballed, rather than destroyed.
A key challenge therefore is to develop a leading strategy that provides a practical vision for a way forward that demonstrates Ireland’s vision for sustainability and which has the support of other nations desiring sustainable fish. Any successful strategy will also need the support of local fishermen and there is a real opportunity to provide the appropriate support for communication training and education to achieve a vision for sustainability.
I am sure the ramifications of these two reports will be felt for many years to come and any future sustainable progress will be warmly welcomed by anglers if abundance is achieved in future years. The concern is that if Ireland neglects its fleet structure by decommissioning rather than moth balling valuable assets then anglers, inshore fishermen and the industry will witness their stocks being taken by some other nation around Irish coasts. Sustainable solutions are therefore urgently needed.
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